The first painting ever to make an impression on me was an old oil on panel that hung above the living room door in my grandmother’s house. A terribly gloomy nocturne of Mission Santa Inès in the darkness, at least I think it was. It’s gone now and no one in the family knows where. It looked like a Charles Rollo Peters painting… who knows, knowing her it may have been an original. None of that is the point… the impression was the thing. The impression that painting made on me has lasted a lifetime. It scared me to death. I was so afraid of it I didn’t like going into her living room at night. The spectral ghostly feel it evoked, the hard edges of day replaced by smudges and smears. It wasn’t clear if the painting represented reality or a dream, a scene from this life or the life to come. Everything it represented was everything I didn’t know, or couldn’t see out there. It was a whole world in the dark.
I’d give anything to get my hands on that painting now, the memory of that image has become a comfort and a guide. It’s a personal mission for me.
So now I haunt lonely places day and night. Dirt and rust, the Mojave at midnight, boots in the sand, distant gulls off the cold coast flying past like falling ash. Lost and lonely places without names or residents swallowed up by sand and sage, things that come with the dust and are gone with the wind as it has been so aptly put. Lonely roadside markers in the night that signify where those we love are lost, smoldering hillsides and crumbling structures show the mark we’ve made, for good or for ill, the silent monoliths that watch us as we come and go and the difference between what we know and what we think we know, darkness and light, comfort and fear.
The spaces we used to occupy that now fill us with dread or regret, and often, hope.
I was raised in California’s Central Valley and in the Tehachapi Mountains and now live in the greater Los Angeles area. Being where most of the people are, I’m drawn to where I can begin to hear myself think and I’m looking forward to sharing my vision with you.
I hope you like the work.
Damian Kinsella, 2020